February in Singapore

I usually visit Singapore once a year. I was just there last August, but my Schengen days were running out and there were absolutely no good non-Schengen options for the Winter. In Europe. So when my Dad suggested going to Singapore for Chinese New Year, I said hey why not.

My month in Singapore flew by. It was nice seeing extended family and distant relatives who I only see once a year, if at all. I also had a close friend visit, and it was fun showing her my “home country”, especially with the Chinese New Year festivities going on. Another highlight definitely was meeting and spending time with my “godson”, who just turned 4 months old.

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Nicole Fu in Salzburg, Austria

January in Budapest

I rang in 2018 in Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and the backdrop to The Sound of Music. All day long on the 31st, there were sounds of schweizerkracher (firecracker) to be heard throughout the city. And at midnight, we were treated to a 360-degree view of fireworks from the Staatsbrücke bridge. There were the official fireworks being shot out from near the castle, locals setting off fireworks from points along the Salzach river, and even as close as a meter from me, on the bridge amidst all the crowd. The next day, the streets resonated with the live stream and replay of the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Year’s Concert. New Year’s in Salzburg was quite something, and quite special.

I then headed to Vienna for a few days, and met with the reigning Austrian Barista Champion for my side project, Coffee Collectif.

I was torn between where to head next: Budapest or Prague. Vienna was exactly halfway between the two, and I’ve heard good things about both.

When making small talk, a common question is “where is your favourite city?” And by far, the response I’ve heard most frequently is Prague. But that wasn’t enough to sell me. I made a pro/con list, conducted a Twitter poll (Budapest won by 6%), asked on multiple remote work/travel Slack channels.. and finally went with Budapest. Budapest was ranked much higher on Nomad List @ #5 v.s. Prague @ #281, and I had a friend there.

I found an amazing apartment right in the center of the city, with a view of the Budapest Eye. It was cheap, too. Everything in Budapest was generally cheap. Public transit was about $1, and coffees were half the price compared to elsewhere in Europe.

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Nicole Fu working from Passerbuys Lounge, NYC

2017: My Second Year as a Digital Nomad

2017 was my second year nomading. In 2016, I resolved to write more and to blog once a month, and then in 2017 I stopped completely. But it’s 2018 and I’m back!


  • My first protest: the women’s march in Vancouver, which marked the turning point of women empowerment in 2017
  • Visiting New Orleans for the Collision conference and jazz fest
  • Spending my birthday and the 28th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in Berlin at the Berlin Wall. (Then going to a German naked spa!)
  • Hitting 40 countries this year – went to Central America and the Middle East for the first time.

January-March: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Banff

I was snowboarding in Utah over the holidays, and flights from Salt Lake City to Vancouver on January 2nd were expensive. I don’t know if it was the route, or it was when everyone was traveling back to work. So, I drove to Vegas to catch a $100 flight to Vancouver. It happened to be CES so I managed to catch a friend who was in town for that, as well as some great shows: O, the best Cirque du Soleil show I’ve seen, Blue Man Group, and Penn & Teller.

After nomading for a year, I was looking forward to settling somewhere for a bit. Since I left Vancouver when I was very young, I was excited to check it out as an adult, and get to know my birthplace as well as my extended family.

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2016: 11 countries visited & 11 lessons learned

2016 was pretty shit for the world. For me, it’s been stressful, unpredictable, exhilarating, scary, and amazing. I visited and lived in 11 countries: Singapore, Malaysia, India, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Taiwan, Australia, and the US. Most of which I worked from, too.

January: Singapore & Mumbai, India

I started my digital nomad adventure at the end of 2015. I left on a one-way ticket to Singapore, and spent the first few months there figuring things out. I detailed this in The Digital Nomad Leap.

New year, new experiences. Trying out #pole for the first time! 💃🏽

A post shared by Nicole Fu (@nicolejfu) on

Lesson #1: Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. 

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4 lessons you can take from my failed startup

Today is the International Day For Failure. No better time to reflect on my first startup, and my foray into the startup world.

It was 2006/7 that I was living in Singapore, and saw the introduction and rise of “blogshops”. This involved older teenage girls/young adults either:

A) selling used clothing and accessories on platforms like LiveJournal, for more money to y’know, shop some more

B) figuring out that a lot of boutiques got their stock from Bangkok, and going to Bangkok themselves to buy stock to sell online at a lower price point

I did A), and thought B) was really smart. Passing the savings from not having a storefront and staff onto the customer. And Bangkok does have great fashion. B) was always on my mind, and when I lived in Tokyo in 2009/10 I thought of starting it there, but the language and other factors deterred me.

While finishing up my Bachelor’s in 2012, I had no idea what I wanted to do after… I was studying Mathematics and Statistics, and unlike my classmates, I wasn’t keen on going on to be an academic, an actuary, or to work in a bank. That’s when Jolietta was born. Armed with B) nagging at the back of my mind for 6 years now, experience working in the fashion industry, and the firm belief that there’s a market for a stylish and affordable fashion alternative, I went fuck it, let’s go.

June 18, 2012: Attended convocation

September 5, 2012: Flew to Bangkok alone, spoke to 50-100 suppliers everyday with the help of an English-Thai app.


-Worked on the logo and branding with an graphic designer I went to elementary school with

-Enlisted the help of a website designer friend of a friend, to set up and customize an e-commerce site via BigCartel


November 10, 2012: Launch day. Activated a street marketing team aka friends.

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Digital Nomad Essentials

Last week, I shared the entire contents of my “mobile home” on YouTube. I won’t list every item and tell you to bring 10 t-shirts, 5 shorts, a toothbrush etc, but I’ll cover the essentials.Nicole Fu Digital Nomad Mobile Home and Mobile Office


Luggage: I love duffel trolley bags like this pink one pictured. They’re lighter than a hard case, and its handle makes it easy to grab to throw on busses and taxis, to pick up and cross uneven surfaces… You can stuff a lot in there too. My current one is from Little India in Singapore, and my previous one was a credit card freebie. Here’s one I found on Amazon. The smaller your “mobile home” the better! It’s pain to drag around. Though I’m personally not a fan of backpacks as you have to a) dig through it, & b) I don’t want to be carrying so much weight on my back.

Backpack: I started nomading with a Jansport, which quickly started to hurt my back. I went in search of a backpack with cushioned straps, & a water bottle slot. This PacSafe has those 2 things, and so much more. A padded back, slash proof front, locks, anti-theft RFID pocket, etc. It’s been serving me well & I highly recommend it.

I also have a small handbag which just nicely fits my iPad, shawl, wallet, and phone. I also have a little clutch that I use to dinner, partying, running errands, and even hiking!

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How to become a Digital Nomad in 3 steps

Nicole Fu Digital Nomad in Vang Vieng, Laos

2 months ago, I wrote about how I became a digital nomad. When people I meet in real-life find out that I’m a digital nomad, a common response I get is: “Wow, that’s so cool. I wish I could do the same.” The thing is, you can. Anyone can.

Recently, I got into a heated discussion with my mom and god brother re. why I don’t want to pursue an opportunity with one of the big 4 tech companies; an opportunity that presented itself to me. It’ll look good on your resume, they said. It’s good experience. But why would I want to go to a corporate 9-5 when I have this?,  I said. Think about your career, they said. “What do you mean, so all the work I’m doing now is what, stagnating my career?” This back and forth went on – I was preaching to the deaf.

Some have even asked me how are my finances, which I find patronizing and to be perpetuating the stigma attached to being a digital nomad. We are not 20-something backpackers, not in the least. We live in nice af condos with swimming pools, or even hotels. I haven’t cooked, washed dishes, changed my bed sheets, or done any chores in months. Johnny FD makes 5 figures a month yet chooses to live simply and spend only ~$2,000 a month. We are not all freelancers – some of the nomads I’ve met in Chiang Mai include a partner at Nokia, the ex-head of marketing for Napster, and a Thought Catalog employee. While Silicon Valley has their uniform of a startup t-shirt, jeans, and hoodie, digital nomads have our uniform of a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. How comfortable is this compared to a shirt and tie, or a pencil skirt and stilettos? How much enjoyment do we get out not having to iron or dry-clean said clothing?

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